Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has been linked in The Sun with a move to Atletico Madrid next summer.
It has been well documented that the Germany international’s contract at the Emirates Stadium expires in June, but whilst the club were reportedly hoping to offload him in January if a new deal cannot be agreed, he is permitted to open pre-contract talks with other sides from the new year.
The problem appears to be Ozil’s wage demands; he is reportedly asking for an enormous £330,000 per week, but it is unlikely that at 29 years of age any of Europe’s top teams will be willing to meet those figures.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone is said to be prepared to offer him £200,000 plus a signing on fee if he moves to the Spanish capital on a free, the report suggests.
In spite of his undoubted talent, Ozil is a somewhat divisive figure at Arsenal, so how would his apparent impending departure affect the North Londoners?
The playmaker has an outstanding record since arriving from Real Madrid in 2013, with an overall tally of 33 goals and 59 assists in 170 appearances.
In the Premier League alone, he has managed to directly contribute, either with a strike for himself or an assist for a team-mate, to 71 goals in 125 outings.
This averages out to over one in every two matches, a phenomenal ratio for a midfielder.
However, a major criticism of the former Werder Bremen man is his perceived anonymity in ‘big’ matches, namely against the Premier League’s elite.
The statistics tell a different story; in 32 league appearances against the current top five (Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool), Ozil has scored or assisted 14 goals.
Whilst it represents a slight drop from his overall record, this is still a pretty impressive return considering the calibre of opposition.
His Champions League figures are perhaps more indicative of why he has picked up a reputation for going missing on the biggest stage; in eight knockout matches for Arsene Wenger’s side, he has failed to get on the scoresheet or provide a goal for one of his colleagues.
Analysing why this is the case can be complex, but perhaps the simple answer is that the team as a whole tend to underperform when tested against world-class opposition.
Arsenal are a side that can be excellent when allowed to dominate possession, but they do not seem to be able to adapt when this is not the case.
Ozil is not the type of player to go out looking to win the ball himself and as such he is reliant on his team-mates to find him in space.
If they are unable to do so, then his influence is inevitably limited.
Ozil is the antithesis to the archetypal British ‘blood and thunder’ type of footballer and maybe that is why he attracts greater criticism than some of his more industrious contemporaries.
With that in mind, speculation linking him with Atletico is somewhat curious; Simeone’s side are notoriously hard-working, typically operating with a strategy to draw teams forward and then hit them quickly on the break.
Could the reported interest in Ozil signal a change in approach, or would the experienced German have to adapt to fit in?
Upon closer consideration, playing in a side such as Los Rojiblancos could get the best out of him; if permitted to forgo defensive duties he could find space and time on the counter, enabling him to drive at the backline or pick a telling pass.
Whether Simeone would be willing to sacrifice a part of his defensive unit to accommodate Ozil remains to be seen and it is that as much as anything that is likely to cast doubt on this rumour.
Nonetheless, it appears that one way or another his time at Arsenal is coming to an end, and perhaps he will only truly be appreciated by the English public once he has departed these shores.